Blog Post

When Rape Happens

Rape is a crime that revolves around power, hostility, and violence. It is not a crime of sex and passion. The actual definition of rape varies from state-to-state in the US and it varies from country to country internationally. It is usually defined as one person forcing another to engage in a sexual act against their will, most commonly intercourse. Rape is also commonly known as sexual assault. Victims can be male or female and of any age, race, physical appearance, and sexual orientation

A person should never be forced to participate in a sexual act with another through the use of force. Rapists use violence, or the threat of violence, to take control of another person. Rapists may also utilize pharmaceutical agents ("date rape drugs") in order to render the victim immobile enough that they are unaware of what is happening and unable to give consent. It doesn't matter how the rape has occurred, it is a crime, and a frightening experience that is severely traumatizing to the victim.

No two victims will react in the exact same way. There is no concise guide that will fit every rape scenario. If you have been the victim of rape, the most important thing to remember is that you are not to blame and that you can heal from the assault. You may choose to
report the crime to the police right away in order to help put the rapist in custody as soon as possible, and you may want to contact a rape crisis center and undergo counseling to help you cope with the aftermath of the rape. Even if you choose not to report the crime committed against you, there are three things that every rape survivor should do: seek medical care, deal with your emotions and feelings, and acknowledge that the rape was not your fault.

Rape, sexual assault and sexual abuse are sexual activities involving a person who does not or cannot consent. Victims of sexual violence are left feeling vulnerable, angry, betrayed, frightened, violated, dirty, embarrassed and powerless.

Adolescents worldwide often face tremendous sexual violence; a growing problem and a leading reproductive health concern. The prevalence of this violence ranges between 15 and 40% in sub-Saharan Africa, with studies showing rates of sexual coercion and abuse among female adolescents in Nigeria between 11 and 55% . Little is known about the impact of rape on adolescents living with HIV (ALHIV), and how their HIV status affects how they cope with this traumatic experience. A recent survey in Nigeria showed 31.4 and 5.7% of sexually active adolescent females and males, respectively, reported forced sex (rape) at sexual initiation. The same study showed significantly more reported cases of rape among female ALHIV compared to their HIV-negative peers. Supporting literature from South Africa highlights rape as a risk factor for HIV in women. Achunike and Kitause provide vivid accounts of rape in Nigeria and its impact on victims, including physical injuries, fatigue and chronic headaches, and emotional problems, such as suicide attempts, stress disorders, depression, and sexual dysfunction. Alcohol and drug abuse were also prominent for victims. In addition, adolescents and youths who have been sexually abused are more likely to have multiple concurrent sex partners, are less likely to report using contraception, and are more likely to report pregnancy.

Prior reports have shown that 4–6% of all adolescent girls in southwestern Nigeria experience rape. The strict code of silence among victims implies the potential for under-reporting, especially when victim blaming is the norm. Less than one in five (18.1%) of 10,000 respondents who have been raped in Nigeria report the offence to the police. There are many reasons for this. Rape results in stigmatization of the victim, resulting in rejection by families and communities, and with police sometimes unwilling to make official reports. Due to this stigma, women and adolescents may be unwilling or unable to obtain a medical examination to substantiate their report of rape. High rates of rape and low reporting underscore the need for specific actions to address sexual violence and to stem the tide on potential risks of HIV transmission. A report by Sinclair et al. showed that building self-defense skills of girls in Kenya significantly reduced incidence of rape over a 10-month period. However, prior to planning and implementing a similar program in Nigeria, it is important that leadership recognizes there is a rape epidemic. HIV infection is just one of the multiple challenges rape victims face, but a strong reason for stakeholders engaged with HIV prevention programmes to incorporate rape prevention in current and proposed HIV prevention programmes for adolescents.

An extensive review of the Nigerian anti-rape law had identified shortcomings in the provisions which make rape prevention challenging. First, according to the law, rape can only be committed by a man to a woman, and it involves only penal and vaginal sex. The law does not acknowledge male rape victims nor does it recognize anal sex as part of rape. Second, a victim of rape needs to establish that penetration occurred, corroboration (or validation) of the crime needs to be established, and proof must be provided that consent was not given. The limitations with establishing consent make proving many of the few valid rape cases difficult . Overall, the low prospect of receiving legal judgment for rape stifles enthusiasm in seeking legal recourse.

Rape is a very traumatic experience. However, with the emotional care of a trained sexual assault advocate, the healing process can begin right away. Rape victims may feel a swirl of emotions directly following their rape including anger, sadness, loneliness, anxiousness, nervous, frightfulness, confusion, and numbness. It is completely normal to go through a mix of emotions as your body and mind try to cope with the trauma.

Rape victims may also experience physical symptoms as a result of the rape, such as having trouble eating, sleeping or even concentrating on work or school. These physical effects are known as
rape trauma syndrome and are entirely normal given the circumstances. It can be a daunting task to talk about your feelings resulting from the rape. Feelings of fear, shame, and the prospects of bringing back memories that are too painful to bear may cause you to avoid treatment. You may feel as though you will not be able to get through the after effects of rape, but you are stronger than you know, you have survived, and seeking professional help will greatly increase your chances of recovery.



Rape is Not Your Fault

There is never a time when any person has the right to have sex with you without your consent. The rapist is the only person to blame for the rape. A common tactic of rapists to further subdue their victims is to tell them that it was their fault that the rape occurred, further instilling feelings of guilt and shame in the victim to break them down emotionally. They may say things such as "You know you wanted it to happen," or "You were asking for this to happen when you did this..." This is just a way for them to exercise a feeling of control over the victim. No matter what the victim said or did before, in the middle, or after the rape occurred, they are never to blame.

Since the majority of rapes are committed by someone the victim knows, survivors may feel torn between reporting the person or not. Rape survivors must always remember that their safety and comfort is their first priority and that they must do what is right for them in order to facilitate healing and recovery.


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About Us

MySalvus is an interactive sexual violence reporting platform where cases of sexual violence can be reported anonymously.

Contact & Support

34 Curtis Adeniyi Jones Close off, Adeniran Ogunsanya St, 101211, Lagos

(+234) 704-683-5377

For urgent help, contact the Lagos state Domestic Sexual Violence Response Team 'DSVRT'